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Monday Fulham Stuff (26.04.10)

Started by White Noise, April 26, 2010, 10:15:11 AM

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White Noise

Roy raging after late pen pain


Published: Today

ROY HODGSON'S week to remember ended on a sour note - and with a blast at the officials who sent Fulham crashing.
The Cottagers boss made NINE changes to the side that drew their Europa League semi-final first leg in Hamburg on Thursday.

And they were just 25 seconds from snatching the unlikeliest of points at in-form Everton when ref Lee Mason handed the Toffees a penalty, which Mikel Arteta drilled home for the winner.

Hodgson's protests against the spot-kick were wrong.

But he had every reason to fume that David Moyes' men were given a throw-in during the build-up, when it should have gone to the visitors.

Hodgson insisted: "It was definitely our throw-in in the run-up to the goal - and the penalty was an unbelievably harsh decision too.

"It was a very sad way to end the game and we didn't deserve it. To lose so late on to a debatable penalty is a sad outcome from what would've been a great occasion for us."

Only keeper Mark Schwarzer and centre-back Chris Baird - the man who fouled Tim Cahill for the penalty - remained from the side that held out for that 0-0 midweek draw in Germany.

Yet Hodgson has no fears about landing in hot water for his much-changed side.

He added: "I'll be amazed if the changes are questioned by the Premier League.

"After 90 minutes in Hamburg, it would've been very hard for us to reproduce that performance here - and the second leg was always going to be my priority."

Moyes was more concerned with hailing Arteta, who needed seven stitches to a head wound after a clash with Kagisho Dikgacoi and an earlier flailing arm off John Pantsil.

The Spanish midfielder was still reeling after the match and Moyes joked: "I've told him he's Scottish!

"Mikel was very groggy, because he also got a bang on the head a few minutes earlier. It was a big penalty and, in the end, it was a deserved victory for us.

"I certainly thought it was a penalty. The only debate was whether it should've been our throw-in."

The win allows Everton to dream a little longer of a Europa League place, after Victor Anichebe's earlier goal cancelled out Erik Nevland's 36th-minute opener.

Moyes, who was celebrating his 47th birthday, said: "The penalty and win means it will probably be a lot easier to enjoy tonight than it would have been.

"Overall, it will probably be the same night, with a glass of wine. And it will go down a lot better now!"

Read more:

White Noise

Everton 2-1 Fulham: The Daily Mirror match report

Published 23:00 25/04/10

By David Maddock

Everton left it so late for victory yesterday that even the fat lady had packed up her songsheet and waddled off home.

But who knows how priceless Mikel Arteta's penalty – awarded with precisely 25 seconds of added time remaining – may yet prove in their push for the final European place.

Certainly, it means they can at least keep snapping away at ­Liverpool's ankles in the race for seventh for another week. And given that their local rivals' next match is against Chelsea, perhaps until the final weekend.

That is the minimum David Moyes' side deserve for their incredible run of form since the end of November, which has seen them lose just two League games, and rise from the relegation zone to the fringes of the European battle.

Again, against an impressive Fulham side they showed the incredible spirit that is ­under-pinning that form, even if they hardly showed the quality of recent months.

Indeed, the home side almost echoed their entire campaign in this one, ultimately entertaining contest. Complete rubbish in the first half, they rolled up their sleeves for much of the second before turning on the style in the latter stages.

In the end, they were worth a victory – just – that came only after they'd turned around a first-half deficit. But if Moyes deserves great credit for keeping his side going at this stage of the season, then what about his counterpart at Fulham? Moyes is right – Roy Hodgson is a shoe-in for manager of the year.

The Craven Cottage boss has performed miracles this season in not only taking his modest club to the verge of the Europa League final, but also maintaining his side's level in the Premier League.

Here, he did that even after making nine changes from the side that performed so well in Hamburg in midweek. And, for much of the game, Fulham were more than worthy of a point, with their astute manager instilling impressive tactical ­discipline.

That explains Hodgson's ­disappointment afterwards, ­especially for an essentially young reserve side he felt deserved far more reward for so bravely ­stepping up to the plate.

"When you get such a debatable decision as that, then it is a sad outcome to a match when my side deserved much more," he said.

"To lose in the 95th minute under such ­circumstances is painful when we gave ­everything – ­especially with a harsh ­decision like that. I'm extremely depressed."

While Hodgson is right to say the decision was ­debatable, defender Chris Baird did make contact with Tim Cahill, when the Everton man was about to go clear on goal. So even if the fall was theatrical, the award was understandable.

It capped a rousing comeback for Everton. They were completely disinterested in the first half, and when Fulham opened the scoring on 37 minutes, it was no surprise.

The manner of it was though. Leighton Baines has been composed all season, so to see him hit a shocking back-pass that Eric ­Nevland fed on to finish with style, it was a complete shock.

So was the home side's lethargic response, as they almost fell further behind when Clint Dempsey was clear but volleyed over, and Stefano Okaka shot tamely when clean through.

But Moyes' men gradually rallied, creating chances through Cahill, Yakubu and Arteta – all wide – before Victor Anichebe rose to head a fine Arteta cross into the net, with the help of a big deflection off his shoulder and then Chris Smalling.

That set up the exciting finale, and Arteta showed again he was the outstanding player on the pitch by converting under massive ­pressure.

The Spaniard was woozy after needing seven stitches in a head wound following his painful, first-half collision with John Pantsil.

It left Moyes happy, and not just because it was his 47th birthday. "I don't think you can deny we deserved victory, we kept going, never gave in and risked a lot. In the end we got a reward for the chances we created," he said.

"Arteta had stitches in his eyebrow and still feels a bit dizzy after getting a knock in the eye, but he kept his composure, and did incredibly well."

As for Fulham, they can now look to Thursday, when they entertain Hamburg in the Europa League semi-final second leg. Bobby Zamora could be crucial to the outcome, but Hodgson admitted it is touch and go for his fitness.

"I'm not confident Bobby will be ready for Thursday," he said. "I am hopeful, but that's all – he's having treatment and we will have to keep our fingers crossed."

White Noise

Interview of the week came on live German TV, where a Fulham player received lengthy congratulations from the locals for the way he had foiled Hamburg and kept striker Ruud van Nistelrooy at bay during their Europa League clash.

"Finally," said the questioner, "can you tell us what it will be like to keep goal for Australia against Germany at the World Cup?"

Replied the interviewee: "No, because Mark Schwarzer's over there. I'm Brede Hangeland."

White Noise

Everton 2 Fulham 1: Battered Arteta on the spot to rock Hodgson's braves

By John Edwards

Last updated at 11:46 PM on 25th April 2010

He was battered and bruised after an uncompromising aerial assault by John Pantsil, but Mikel Arteta gathered his scrambled senses just in time to keep alive Everton's slender European hopes at Goodison Park.

Arteta sent keeper Mark Schwarzer the wrong way with a penalty in the final minute of added time, just as a Fulham side showing nine changes threatened to dash Everton's chances of staying in touch with the pack chasing Europa League places.

The pressure was immense, given the late juncture and Everton's desperate need for points.

Arteta had been forced to leave the field before half-time after being clattered by Pantsil. The Fulham right back was booked after charging into Arteta and leaving him in need of lengthy treatment, but the midfielder had his revenge, as Everton launched one last attack, in the fourth added minute.

Chris Baird was judged to have fouled Tim Cahill, as headers from Tony Hibbert and Louis Saha kept a throw-in arcing towards the area, and Arteta calmly stroked home a harsh-looking penalty award.

It was the perfect birthday present for manager David Moyes, 47 yesterday, and he said: 'Mikel was really groggy and has had seven stitches in his eyebrow. That was great composure to convert the penalty. It was a big penalty, with so much riding on it, but he kept his nerve.

'We're not looking at Liverpool and wondering if we can catch them. We're concentrating on ourselves.'
Fulham boss Roy Hodgson was almost inconsolable after seeing his patched-up side run Everton so close following Thursday's goalless Europa League away to Hamburg, who lost 5-1 away at Hoffenheim yesterday.

They went ahead in the 36th minute after Leighton Baines turned to roll a back pass to Tim Howard. Erik Nevland read his intentions and helped himself to a gift, lifting an assured finish over the advancing keeper.

Everton were level in the 49th minute when Steven Pienaar's backheel allowed Arteta to float in a cross and Victor Anichebe scored with a looping header.

Arteta then decided matters with the spotkick that Hodgson found so hard to take. The manager also stoutly defended his decision to retain just Schwarzer and Baird from Thursday's Euro starting line-up.

He said: 'It was an unbelievably harsh penalty. I find it difficult to be anything other than extremely depressed at seeing a point stolen after our performance.

'But I'd be absolutely amazed if the Premier League question today's team selection, because the changes actually improved us and gave us a better chance of winning. The players who put in 90 minutes against Hamburg would have found it incredibly difficult to produce that level of performance.

'We're so close to the Europa League final, and surely no-one can blames us for trying to make sure all players are fully fit for the return leg. I'm hoping Bobby Zamora fits into that category, but I can't say I'm confident.'

Read more:

White Noise

45 Damien Duff (Fulham)

Often cutting a forlon figure at Newcastle, Duff's career has been re-ignited since his move to Fulham and he's played a crucial part in the team's most successful season in their history.

He has scored more goals this season than during his entire three-year spell at St James' Park.

Read more:

White Noise


Everton 2 Fulham 1


THIS was a home banker on paper with Roy Hodgson making nine changes to his line-up ahead of arguably the most important game in Fulham's history on Thursday.
Instead, the Cottagers took a shock lead through Erik Nevland and only a late penalty from Mikel Arteta handed Everton a hard-fought victory.

David Moyes wants his side to keep pushing for a Europa League place and his decision to throw Victor Anichebe on at half time paid off within five minutes when the young striker bagged the equaliser.

Everton dominated as Mark Schwarzer was worked by Tim Cahill inside 30 seconds but the keeper was not tested again until keeping out a deflected effort from Yakubu Aiyegbeni just before the break.

However, he was lucky when Diniyar Bilyaletdinov's volley came back off the post after two minutes and wayward finishing from the hosts ruined all their good approach work.

So it was a real surprise when, completely against the run of play, Leighton Baines' sloppy backpass to Tim Howard was seized upon by Nevland and the predatory Norwegian flicked a composed finish over the USA international.

Incredibly, it could have been 2-0 before half time but Clint Dempsey volleyed over Stefano Okaka's clever chip.

Moyes acted decisively and replaced Bilyaletdinov with Anichebe and the Nigerian was soon bravely heading home as Yakubu tried to execute a scissor kick from Arteta's inviting cross.

Lee Mason didn't award a penalty when Nicky Shorey appeared to handle inside the box and Jonathan Greening almost put through his own net from a Tony Hibbert cross as the pressure increased.

Louis Saha, against his old club, had a header deflected just off target by Dempsey after coming on as a substitute for Phil Neville.

Fulham managed a dangerous breakaway but Okaka shot straight at Howard after a nice pass from Nevland and it was to prove a costly miss.

Schwarzer saved superbly from Cahill with 10 minutes left and also kept out Arteta as the clock ticked down.

It looked to be a case of points dropped for the home side but Chris Baird fouled Cahill inside the box in injury time and Arteta kept his cool to steer in the winner.

Hodgson complained about the spot-kick award afterwards.

"I thought the penalty decision was unbelievably harsh," he said.

"We had a similar situation with Clint Dempsey and I didn't make too much of a fuss about it.

"But when that penalty decision goes against you, I wondered why I wasn't more upset about the one we should have had.

"It's a very sad way to end the game. We didn't deserve it because it was a very good performance from the team.

"To lose it so late in the game to a debatable penalty is a sad outcome for what was otherwise a very good occasion for us."

White Noise

St Pauli in a world of their own making

A club who reflect the alternative lifestyles of their supporters are closing in on a return to the Bundesliga

Nick Szczepanik

After trekking across northern Europe to watch their team draw 0-0 with Hamburg in the Europa League on Thursday, it is a pity that more Fulham fans did not stay on an extra day to watch the club that offer the most refreshing antidote to Uefa's corporate football ideal.

St Pauli, based in the German port's red-light district, beat Koblenz 6-1 on Friday evening and the entertainment did not stop at the touchlines, the fans not so much a backdrop as part of the experience.

The core of the club's support is left wing, anarchic and hedonistic, including many with "alternative" lifestyles that reflect the area. "We like to feel we are underdogs, fighting against big money," Uwe, a magazine seller, said. "Antiracist, antifascist and internationalist."

If a Clash reunion tour were possible, this would be its audience, except that they do all the singing. Often in English, it lasts the full 90 minutes and includes nods to the Beatles, who spent their early years around the corner at the Kaiserkeller and the Star-Club. The choirmasters are four fans with megaphones, perched on the perimeter railings behind the goal in a manner that would give British safety officers heart failure.

Attending a match at the Millerntor is like stepping back 20 or 30 years into a slightly altered, improved football universe: the old Den without the menace. With beer and smoking allowed on the terraces — yes, standing remains part of Germany's football landscape — it even smells like an old ground. In a good way.

The motto "Non-established since 1910" says everything about the club whose team wear brown and are cheered on by fans waving the skull and crossbones. Its centenary will be celebrated not with a prestige friendly against a mega-club but against FC United of Manchester.

St Pauli could also be celebrating promotion back to the Bundesliga after relegation in 2002 was followed by several years in regional football. One win from two remaining matches will ensure that Bayern Munich and the rest will be visiting the Millerntor again next season.

They will find that the tatty but atmospheric ground is being rebuilt to hold 28,000 rather than the present snug 23,000, but it will never be confused with Hamburg's Uefa five-star venue. The standing areas are being expanded rather than replaced by seats.

"It was a hard fight to keep standing areas in the 1990s," Sven Brux, a former fanzine editor, now a club administrator, said. "You gave up too easily. It wasn't standing that killed people at Hillsborough, it was mistakes by the police. That's why so many British fans come here. English football is boring."

This was anything but. For the first 40 minutes after the teams took the field to AC/DC's Hells Bells promotion jitters were evident as St Pauli missed a penalty and a retake. But the crowd sang on as if they had scored and two goals in as many minutes just after half-time settled the nerves.

After the final whistle, celebrations spilt on to the nearby Reeperbahn, while 500 or so headed for their traditional watering hole, the Jolly Roger pub, to continue drinking and talk about the match and the plans for the rest of Friday night.

What they did not discuss was whether success will change St Pauli. How could it, when Corny Littman, the president, is a theatre and nightclub-owner and one-time performer in gay cabaret? "I've been president for seven years but a fan for 30, so I understand what they want," he said. "I believe in the identity and you have to take care of it."

"You only have to look around to feel the atmosphere, to understand the flair of St Pauli. I'm not afraid that we'll lose it, even in the Bundesliga. I don't really want to talk about it because we're not there yet. If we are, we may change the atmosphere of the Bundesliga, but it won't change us."

White Noise

Europa: The English Europa Final

Europa League: Semifinals 2nd Leg. 29.04.2010 - 29.04.2010.

By Joe, | Published 00:44 26.04.10

Steven Gerrard will make an impression on Thursday when Atletico Madrid comes to play the second leg of the Europa League semifinal. Liverpool are no stranger to these high pressured games and one that could go down as a famous European nights. Fulham will play Hamburg in the other semifinal at Craven Cottage and Roy Hodgson could take Fulham into their first ever European final.

Fulham vs. Hamburg

The first leg ended 0-0 at the Nordbank Arena and that is not a surprise if you are a follow Fulham's form away from Craven Cottage. If you are looking forward to see Fulham in the Final then you will have to turn your attention to Manager Roy Hodgson. He rested a few players in the 2-1 defeat to Everton over the weekend. Despite the score line, it was a narrow defeat in which Fulham lost on a Mikael Arteta penalty in the extra injury time of the game. Expect a health lineup on Thursday night when Roy Hodgson announces his team. He will have Clinton Dempsey, Pantsil and Erik Nevland available but all eyes will be on Danny Murphy and Bobby Zamora to bang in the goals.

Despite what is going on domestically for Hamburg, things are in a different state when it comes to the Europa League. Hamburg drew 0-0 at home in the first leg which lead to many questions over the lack of cynical finishing in front of goal. Further misery was done over the weekend, they lost 5-1 away to Hoffenheim and much to Manager Bruno Labaddia disgust. The team will have to rally in time for the travel to Craven Cottage on Thursday. Hamburg are in poor form and poor shape ahead of the clash with Fulham.

If we were to go by what we saw last week in Hamburg then Fulham are certainly a team that is hard to break through. They are well disciplined and organized in the back four and certainly that could win them the next round ticket. Never underestimate the Germans and that you can quote when it comes to international scenes. All there is left for Hamburg this season is the Final and that is their only silverware chance. All signs are pointing on Fulham and chances are they could go through for their first European final in history. However, one away goal can take Hamburg into the Final.

Liverpool vs. Atletico Madrid

Liverpool have officially announced that their club is for sale and what more than to attract suitors by getting into the Europa League Final. The Reds have lost Fernando Torres up in the attack for a few weeks and it is most likely that he will not be ready for the Final, if they make it. Manager Rafa Benitez might still be fuming over the 20 hours of travel to Madrid and also resulted into a 1-0 defeat in the first leg. Benitez will be looking to overturn that deficit and Anfield have seen a lot of good results in the past. It could be that Liverpool could still salvage their season with silverware and ahead of the game, a 4-0 away win over Burnley will boost their confidence.

Atletico Madrid won 3-1 in the weekend at home against Tenerife and that will take them into two consecutive wins running up to the Thursday clash in Liverpool. The red half of Madrid will be happy to see E. Salvio and S. Aguero ready in time for the big clash. The 1-0 advantage might be not the ideal lead but certainly enough to take them into the next round. They will need to defend that lead but that is not Atletico Madrid style. They will attack when they have the chance at Anfield and they know they can play up to the opposition on the night. A strong playing Atletico Madrid team will be require if they want a Final in Hamburg on the 12th of May.

The last time Atletico Madrid was at Anfield they got a 1-1 draw and a repeat of this result will get them through to the Final. However European night at Anfield has a reputation of being one of the fiercest ground in Europe when it comes to European football. If Rafa Benitez wants something this season then silverware will have to be the main goal but only a win will get them there. Steven Gerrard returns to the scoring sheet in the weekend with two goals so it could be that he will play the grand role once again. Atletico Madrid will have to defend but it will be a matter of time they break and counter. A share of goals could be in store at Anfield and expect fireworks with an epic finish to the semifinal on Thursday.

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White Noise

Hamburg may sack coach before Fulham clash


Monday, 26 April 2010

Hamburg coach Bruno Labbadia faces a decision over his future ahead of Thursday's Europa League semi-final second leg against Fulham.

The northern German side were hammered 5-1 at Hoffenheim yesterday to heap the pressure on the under fire boss.

The tie against Fulham, which is level at 0-0 after the first game in Germany, is Hamburg's last chance to rescue a desperate season, and club chairman Bernd Hoffmann is to hold crisis talks with Labbadia.

"We are going to speak together with the coach and ensure we do what is right for Thursday," said Hamburg chairman Bernd Hoffmann.

"That is our last chance to leave a route into Europe next season open.

"There is not really much more that I can add to that."

Labbadia, though, insisted suggestions he had lost the backing of his players were absurd.

"If a team were to play against their coach, then they would also be playing against themselves," he said.

"That would make no sense."

But the coach did admit his side were woeful against Hoffenheim.

"It was a depressing performance," he said. "I am very disappointed. This is a bitter moment."

The defeat left Hamburg five points behind sixth-placed Stuttgart with just two games remaining.

White Noise

Hamburg Sack Head Coach Bruno Labbadia - Report

The Europa League hopefuls have reportedly given their manager the sack...

By Stefan Coerts

Apr 26, 2010 11:10:00 AM

According to several reports from Germany, Bundesliga outfit Hamburger SV have sacked head coach Bruno Labbadia in the aftermath of the club's heavy 5-1 league defeat against Hoffenheim on Sunday.

The 44-year-old Labbadia left Bayer Leverkusen for Hamburg last summer and made a good start to life at the Rothosen. However, HSV have been far from impressive since the winter break and currently sit only seventh in the league table.

HSV lock horns with Fulham later this week in the second leg of their Europa League semi-final, but the German side's direction was seemingly no longer confident Labbadia was the right man to guide HSV to European glory. The German coach's contract was due to expire in the summer of 2012.

The Bundesliga side have reportedly appointed Ricardo Moniz as caretaker boss until the end of the season. The 45-year-old Dutchman already worked at Hamburg as a coach.

Hamburg have yet to confirm the departure of Labbadia, but an official statement is expected to be released later on Monday.

White Noise

Tough To Take

Monday 26th April 2010

Fulham FC News

Fulham left-back Nicky Shorey described Sunday's defeat at Everton as a "bitter loss" but insisted there were still positives to be taken.

An Erik Nevland strike gave the Whites a half-time lead, although a Victor Anichebe header which deflected off Chris Smalling's shoulder brought the hosts level shortly after the restart.

Clint Dempsey and Stefano Okaka both saw chances come and go, while Mark Schwarzer made an incredible stop to keep out Steven Pienaar.

Searching for their first league win at Goodison Park in 22 visits, periods of play suggested Fulham could well have taken something. Even after Everton's leveller, the Whites would have been relatively content with what would have been a valuable point on the road.

However, in a cruel late twist, the home side were awarded a penalty deep into injury-time following Chris Baird's challenge on Tim Cahill. Mikel Arteta stepped up, and broke Fulham's spirits with a confident strike.

"It was a tough way to lose, right at the end and in that way," explained Shorey, talking exclusively to "But unfortunately, from time to time it can happen – that's football. That doesn't make it any easier, because this was a bitter loss, and shows that until that final whistle is blown you just don't know what will unfold.

"It was difficult to accept, and obviously very disappointing. It's horrible to lose any game but when it comes so late, it's hard to swallow. It looked like we had done enough, but it just shows doesn't it?"

Manager Roy Hodgson made nine changes to his team, with only Mark Schwarzer and Chris Baird starting from the line-up that faced Hamburg days earlier.

Kagisho Dikgacoi, Jonathan Greening, Stefano Okaka and Bjørn Helge Riise were all among those recalled, while there was a welcome start for John Pantsil, who was making his first appearance of 2010. Teenage hopefuls Matthew Briggs and Christopher Buchtmann were also included on the bench.

"It was difficult because the team that took to the field against Everton hasn't seen a lot of action lately. That's hard, because at this level the tempo is so high right from the off and you don't really get a chance to settle.

"But I thought those that came in adapted to the situation and coped relatively well. In fact, I think we matched them for large parts of the game.

"We have to look at the positives. The fact that we played well shouldn't be overlooked and I think we gave Everton, who are a very strong team, a good game. It's a difficult place to go, even more so when they are on such a good run, and we went very close. They're a top, top team, with a lot of talented players.

"It was good for some of the players to get a game and it was also good experience for the younger boys to come in and travel with the squad. We were competitive and did create chances and matched a near enough full-strength Everton for long periods.

"I think we showed that this team does have depth, and considering so many changes were made, those that came in showed what they could do and I don't think we let the team down.

"It was nice to get back out there, and with the season drawing to a close now, it would be great to be involved in a few more games. To be fair, I think quite a few of the boys that played against Everton will be thinking the same."

Thoughts return to the UEFA Europa League now, with Thursday's visit of Hamburg arguably the Club's most eagerly anticipated match, with the Whites potentially 90 minutes away from a European final.

"Well that's the focus now," added Shorey. "Obviously we want to do well in the league and finish as high as possible. But this is without doubt a very big game for us. Unfortunately I'm not eligible so won't be part of it, but I do wish the lads all the best.

"They've done fantastically well in Europe and deserve to be in this position. They're very close now, so hopefully they can get the result and get the Club to the Final – which would be a marvellous achievement."

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White Noise

Roy Hodgson defends Fulham selection against Everton 

Roy Hodgson said he would be "amazed" if the Premier League took action against Fulham for fielding a weakened team in their 2-1 loss to Everton.

The Fulham boss rested eight players ahead of their second leg Europa Cup match against Hamburg on Thursday.

Wolves were given a £25,000 fine in February for naming a weaker side in a 3-0 loss to Manchester United.

"If anything was to happen in that respect, I would be absolutely amazed," Hodgson told BBC Sport.

"We are going into dangerous ground when the Premier League decide whether teams are strong or not.

The game on Thursday is a much bigger priority than this one

"I believe Hull City made six changes to their team [a 1-0 defeat by Sunderland] on Saturday, so I think I should be entitled to change players when I want to change them, especially given the situation we find ourselves in."

The Cottagers are one match away from reaching the Europa League final following an 0-0 draw in the first leg in Germany last week, made the more impressive following a 17-hour train and coach journey because of the air travel restrictions caused by the Icelandic volcanic ash impact.

For Sunday's match, Hodgson opted to rest key players Paul Konchesky, Aaron Hughes, Danny Murphy, Dickson Etuhu, Damien Duff, Zoltan Gera, Brede Hangeland and Simon Davies, while striker Bobby Zamora was sidelined with an Achilles injury.

However, Premier League rules state a full-strength side must be played in all top-flight games.

Wolves were adjudged to have broken those rules following in December after manager Mick McCarthy had made 10 team changes.

On Sunday, Fulham took the lead at Goodison Park through Erik Nevland, but a header from Victor Anichebe and an injury-time penalty from Mikel Arteta earned Everton all three points as they chase a Europa League place for next season.

Hodgson added: "The game on Thursday is a much bigger priority than this one.

"But I'm not at all convinced that if the same 11 players that played here had played in Hamburg whether we would have given a good an account of ourselves as we did.

"I would be amazed if, after the performance we have given against a strong Everton team, whether people would have the temerity to discuss our team selection.

"The Premier League will make the decisions it wants to make, all I can do is answer the question on whether we have a case to answer for letting them down or favouring the opponents by fielding a weaker team.

"I can stand here quite happily knowing that we haven't done that."

White Noise

Everton   2 - 1   Fulham

By Kevin Darling 

Mikel Arteta's last-gasp penalty against Fulham kept alive Everton's slim hopes of a European place.

Leighton Baines' poor backpass allowed Erik Nevland to score for the visitors, who rested nine players ahead of their Europa League match against Hamburg.

Everton levelled just after the break when Victor Anichebe's header deflected in off Chris Smalling's shoulder.

Arteta then fired in a dramatic injury-time winner from the spot after Chris Baird's clumsy challenge on Tim Cahill.

While Fulham's much-changed line-up indicated they were more focused on Thursday's momentous semi-final second leg, Everton came seconds away from seeing their own Europa League ambitions extinguished.

Arteta's spot-kick, coming well after the three minutes of injury time had elapsed, was virtually the last kick of the game and rescued an Everton side who had struggled to break down their opponents.

The win means the Toffees remain one place and five points behind city rivals Liverpool, who currently occupy the final Europa League qualifying spot, with two games to play.

But the result was slightly harsh on the determined visitors who, despite fiercely protesting the penalty and also the award of a throw-in that lead to the spot-kick, have now lost on 17 successive league visits to Goodison Park.

Fulham's chances of ending that run looked unlikely when the team-sheets were revealed and it was no surprise when Everton made the brighter start - with Diniyar Bilyaletdinov's superbly executed left-footed volley rattling the post after just two minutes.

Anichebe made the difference - Moyes
Sloppy defending from Fulham's unfamiliar backline twice presented chances to Yakubu, who scuffed wide after Smalling's error and then charged down a goal-kick from a hesitant Mark Schwarzer.

An Everton opener looked inevitable, but it was the visitors who took the lead totally against the run of play.

The goal arrived courtesy of a terrible backpass from Baines, who failed to spot the onrushing Nevland, allowing the striker to gratefully latch onto the ball inside the box and prod past Tim Howard.

Tim Cahill almost replied instantly for Everton but headed wide from Yakubu's cross and Fulham could have doubled their lead when Stefan Okaka set up Clint Dempsey with a wonderful scooped chip over the defence, only for the American winger to volley over from 10 yards out.

Dempsey was left to rue that miss shortly after the restart when another piece of poor defending saw Everton level the scores.

After Bjorn Helge Riise gave the ball away, Arteta sent in a teasing cross that Everton substitute Anichebe managed to head home via Smalling's shoulder, with a helpful bounce deceiving Schwarzer.

Minutes later, the hosts almost completed a lightning-quick turnaround when Cahill's powerful effort from Arteta's corner was well-parried by the Fulham keeper.

Everton failed to build on that spell of pressure but went close again when Jonathan Greening almost looped a header into his own net from Tony Hibbert's cross.

Hodgson devastated after 'harsh' loss
Okaka should have put the visitors back in front but he fired straight at Howard after being set up by Nevland, while at the other end Cahill was denied by the legs of Schwarzer as the game opened up in the closing stages.

It seemed Everton's chance to win it had gone when Saha sent a header agonisingly wide but in the last throes of the match, Cahill burst on to a knock-down 12 yards from goal and went down in heap under Baird's challenge.

Referee Lee Mason waved away the Fulham protests and Arteta slammed home a spot-kick that could yet prove crucial in an intriguing Merseyside battle for seventh spot.


Everton manager David Moyes:
"I don't think you could deny we deserved the victory. We went for it.

"The goal we lost was poor and I think it put everybody down. But we never gave in and kept going.

"I thought it was a penalty. I think the argument is 'was it a throw in?' in the lead-up to the penalty."

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson:
"I thought the penalty decision was unbelievably harsh, we didn't deserve it.

"I'm extremely depressed with the way a great result from a great performance was stolen from us in injury time.

"It's a very sad way to end the game but we could afford to lose - the match on Thursday is a much bigger priority."

White Noise

Fulham fillip as Europa League rivals Hamburg sack manager Bruno Labbadia

By Sportsmail Reporter

Last updated at 12:37 PM on 26th April 2010

Hamburg have fired boss Bruno Labbadia just three days before their Europa League semi-final second leg against Fulham.

The Bundesliga side axed Labbadia following a 5-1 defeat by Hoffenheim on Sunday.

The result saw Hamburg drop to seventh after a disappointing second half of the season in which they have won only four of their 15 league games since the winter break.
Labbadia fell out with some of the club's top players and his assistant coach Ricardo Moniz will take charge of the team until the end of the season.

Moniz's first game will come at Craven Cottage on Thursday. Hamburg face Fulham having drawn the first leg of their Europa League clash 0-0.

At stake is a place in the final at the Germans' own Nordbank Arena against either Liverpool or Atletico Madrid.

White Noise

Helguson wants Watford stay

Heider Helguson helped secure Championship footie for Watford on Saturday and now insists he`d "like to stay" at Vicarage Road for the foreseeable future..

The Iceman - on loan from those not-so Super Hoops of QPR - has netted 11 goals in 26 starts during his 2nd spell with the Hornets and reckons that the yellow shirt brings out the very best of him.

(and here at VitalWatford we`re not sure that fans of Fulham, Bolton or QPR would argue with us when we say he somehow always finds his form - and shooting boots - in WD18!)

H told SkySports "I suppose I have played my best football here [at Watford] so staying up means a lot to me....I 'd like to stay here".

And the legendary frontman added "I`ve spent the majority of my time in England here [at Watford]. I have got a good rapport for the fans and everyone here".

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White Noise


26th April 2010

By Jeremy Cross

HULL'S financial crisis is so bad that the relegated outfit cannot sell record signing Jimmy Bullard – because they haven't paid for him yet.

The Tigers have debts of £36m and face financial meltdown in the wake of their pending relegation to the Championship.

Owner Russell Bartlett is set to hold a fire sale in a bid to reduce their crippling wage bill. Bullard is the club's highest earner after signing a five-year deal worth £45,000 a week.

But he doesn't have a clause in his contract that allows the Tigers to reduce his wages in the wake of relegation, meaning he could still pocket more than £6m if he stayed.

Now it has emerged that the midfielder, who has made just 15 appearances for the club due to serious knee injuries, cannot be sold to the highest bidder because Hull haven't paid for him in full.

It is understood they still owe Fulham around £1.2m of the £5m transfer fee – agreed between the two clubs when Bullard left Craven Cottage in January 2009 and former chairman Paul Duffen was in charge at the KC Stadium.


Twitter: @LBNo11FFC

White Noise

Bruno Labbadia's Sacking at Hamburg Should Serve as a Warning to Fulham

26/4/2010 8:14 AM GMT By Mike McGrath

Fulham know all about the mentality of being an underdog, in fact they have spent the last two campaigns looking to upset the odds.

Some tipped them for relegation last season but they qualified for Europe. Then they were given little hope against the biggest names in the Europa League, yet they have stormed into the last four of the competition.

Skipper Danny Murphy, who won the trophy at Liverpool, admits it is different being at Craven Cottage "because the expectation of the club is not to get this far".

So they will be wary of events in Germany this weekend. With their semi-final against Hamburg poised at 0-0 at the halfway stage, the Bundesliga side sacked their head coach Bruno Labbadia following the 5-1 defeat to Hoffenheim.
It would normally lead to Fulham being installed as overwhelming favourites – but whether they want to be seen that way is another matter.

Just getting out of a group containing Roma and Basel was a small shock. Defeating Shakhtar Donetsk, the holders of the trophy, was seen as a impressive giantkilling.

Then came the famous tie against Juventus. The odds of progressing to the quarter-finals were extremely long when they conceded an early away goal in the second leg, making it 4-1 on aggregate to the Italian giants. Cue a stunning comeback to win 5-4.

Even Wolfsburg were expected to be too strong for Roy Hodgson's men, yet they fought through to the penultimate round.

So Fulham have every right to be cautious of any team labelled as outsiders and will know how much Hamburg will be relishing the chance to prove people wrong having already been written off in this semi-final.

The beginnings of a siege mentality are likely to be forming at the Nordbank Arena among a squad that has under-performed since the turn of the year but still possesses quality throughout. They have pace in Jonathan Pitroipa, experience in Ze Roberto and a proven goalscorer in Ruud van Nistelrooy while the return of Mladen Petric ahead of schedule following a groin injury has provided an additional lift.

Losing a manager often sparks a response from players in their next games. It happens so often with teams in a poor run of form. They go week after week without winning then a change in the dug-out leads to a change in fortunes.

Sometimes it is only short term, and there is hardly time for the news to sink in before they will be kicking off at Craven Cottage. Fulham have been warned.


Quote from: White Noise on April 26, 2010, 10:15:11 AM

Chris Smalling set for Manchester United starting spot, says Sir Alex Ferguson

Apr 26 2010

By Paul Warburton

SIR Alex Ferguson has told Chris Smalling he will be in Manchester United's first-team next year – and leaving Fulham at the end of the season is not a gamble for the 20-year-old.

However, Smalling, who started in the reserves last August and became an £8million player in the space of seven games, admits the move has put pressure on him.

The defender was a solid replacement for Brede Hangeland in last week's 0-0 draw with Wolves when the Norwegian's wife went into labour on the morning of the match – and kept his place for Sunday's defeat to Everton.

But the smart money is on a young player warming the Old Trafford bench next season while the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic command the first-team places.

But United's boss has reassured Smalling he stands just as much a chance of performing in front of 75,000 each week as the other two.

The defender said: "I'll definitely be starting on the front foot in terms of a first-team place. Sir Alex sat me down and explained where I am – and where I'll be going.

"You start off the season just hoping to get as many games as you can – and then you get an opportunity like this, and yeah, it does bring pressure.

"But it's a compliment and a chance to show what you are worth, and hopefully I can repay it."

:005: all the way to the bank. Plus it better's are chance to beat them.
Fulham for life!

White Noise

Seat Release Announcement

Monday 26th April 2010

Fulham FC News

Season Ticket Seat Release Date Announced

The Club has been busy processing an unprecedented number of renewal applications over the past week but is now pleased to be able to confirm a seat release date whereby all non-renewed 2009/10 Season Ticket seats will be released to the general public.  This will include some of the best seats on offer at Craven Cottage.

On Wednesday 28th April at 9am, all non-renewed seats will be available for online purchase (General Sale).  

Fans will be able to view which new seats have become available and even select the exact seat they want for 2010/11 by logging in to our online ticketing system from 9am Wednesday.

Adult and Concession Season Tickets for the 2010/11 season start at just £285, and Junior Season Tickets from just £95 – that's only £15 and £5 per game respectively!  We even have a limited number of FREE Season Tickets for Under 8s if booked at the same time as a full paying Adult Season Ticket.

Any supporters who have yet to renew their seat should note that due to a number of priority moves which the Ticket Office is currently handling, the Club can no longer guarantee your seat will be available prior to Wednesday's Seat Release.

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